Several bands throughout the decades have been called the Outsiders, but the group we’re looking at now hailed from Cleveland, Ohio and is best remembered for “Time Won’t Let Me,” a Top 5 hit during the early months of 1966. Before the year drew to a close, the band netted three more chartbusting singles, including “Girl In Love,” “Respectable” and “Help Me Girl,” lending them to be the toast of the town.
Sparked by a swirl of stabbing horns, danceable rhythms, rich harmonies and rocking breaks, “Time Won’t Let Me” neatly juggled slick soul influences with British Invasion inspired maneuvers. Although such a concept became an essential part of the group’s identity, they occasionally tinkered with other sounds and styles, which can be heard here on this fantastic retrospective.
Sporting a likeness to the grainy garage rock of the Shadows of Knight and the Standells, “What Makes You So Bad (You Weren’t Brought Up That Way)” seethes to the toxic tone of a croaking harmonica, jagged riffs and bluesy snarling, while “I’m Not Tryin’ To Hurt You” romps and rolls to a hurried pace, and “Gotta Leave Us Alone” efficiently fuses big and bold brass arrangements with the grit and grunt of Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Slathered with backwards guitars, “And Now You Want My Sympathy” bestows a cool psychedelic feel, the pert and punchy “I’ll Give You Time (To Think It Over)” is basically a rewrite of “Black Is Black” by Los Bravos, but in a good way of course, and then there’s “Girl In Love,” an orchestrated ballad beaming with beauty, light and detailed designs.
Shards of folk pop fuel the Searchers meet the Beau Brummels fashioned “Was it Really Real?,” the heart-thumping “I’ll See You In The Summertime” radiates with plush and polish, and a cover of the weepy “Since I Lost My Baby,” which was initially done by the Temptations, is revisited with earnest emotions.
Not quite as hard and hungry as the version by the Animals, “Help Me Girl” nevertheless carries an impressively brazen beat, where the Isley Brothers are rehashed to vanilla white effects on a zippy take of “Respectable,” and “Loving You,” marked by melodrama and lush production values, sits squarely on the Tom Jones or Engelbert Humperdinck end of the radio dial.
The Outsiders splintered in 1970, leaving behind them four fine albums and a pile of excellent singles. Lead singer Sonny Geraci soon surfaced in Climax, and in 1972 scored a #3 winner with the soft and romantic “Precious And Few,” which further received heavy rotation at proms and weddings.
Stacked high with catchy songs, “Collectors Series” (Collectables Records) insistently informs how together the Outsiders were. Not only could these guys play and sing, but much of their material was original. Fully developed hooks, mated with the band’s firm and focused instrumentation supplied their wares with a professional yet sincerely spirited stance. Those with a taste for both horn rock and guitar pop are advised to give a listen!
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